LEWISTON — Mayor Larry Gilbert pulled the curtain on a municipal volunteer program Monday night.

During his inaugural address at the Franco-American Heritage Center, Gilbert challenged Lewiston’s residents to step forward and serve in some capacity — from directing visitors to Lewiston City Hall to helping to move a radar speed indicator trailer around the city to help cut down on speeding. 

“There are as many uses for volunteers as there are  uses for paper clips — when queried, one can always come up with one more use,” he said. “I challenge you to respond when we recruit for volunteers with special skills, as the rewards of volunteerism are infinite.”

More than 100 people filled the center as Gilbert, the new City Council and members of the Lewiston School Committee took their oaths of office. All were elected Nov. 3.

Councilors include Ward 1’s John Butler, Ward 2’s Rennee Bernier, Ward 3’s Larry Poulin, Ward’s 4’s Ron Jean, Ward 5’s Tina O’Connell — formerly Tina Bailey — Ward 6’s Mark Cayer and Ward 7’s Stephen Morgan.

School Committee members include Ward 1’s Walter Hill Jr., Ward 2’s Paul St. Pierre, Ward 3’s Eugene Dumont, Ward 4’s James Handy, Ward 5’s Sonia Taylor, Ward 6’s Ronella Paradis, Ward 7’s Tom Shannon and at-large member Leah Poulin.

Gilbert listed challenges the new council would face, including difficult economic times and declining state revenue. He also listed the city’s wins over the last few years — from selling the Androscoggin Bank Colisee to private investors, luring new developers to the city and effort to encourage Lewiston high school graduates to continue on to college.

“As we begin this New Year, let us each commit ourselves with a renewed spirit to work as a community in service of each other,” he said.

Councilors voted to elect Morgan, former Lewiston Planning Board chairman, as the council president to run meetings in Gilbert’s absence.

In his address, Morgan also called for residents to help the city.

“At my company, we have a policy that says its OK to bring a problem forward, but with that problem please bring three possible solutions for discussion,” he said. “I would ask that the people of Lewiston do the same thing.”

School Committee members elected Jim Handy as chairman. In his address, Handy saluted Superintendent Leon Levesque for his work. Levesque plans to retire at the end of the year.

“We have been fortunate to have one of the state’s top educational leaders heading up our school,” Handy said. “We have had an amazing school superintendent.”

Monday’s ceremony involved performances by the Lewiston High School chamber choir, flag presentation members of the Lewiston Police and Fire departments honor guards and prayers by local religious leaders.

Rabbi Hillel Katzir of Temple Shalom in Auburn gave the opening prayer. Sheikh Saleh Mohamud of the Lewiston/Auburn Islamic Center gave the invocation prayer. It was translated by center member Hassan Adan. The Rev. Joseph Daniels of Prince of Peace Parish in Lewiston gave the closing prayer.

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Lewiston city clerk Kathy Montejo administer the oath of office as Larry Gilbert is sworn in as mayor of Lewiston in a ceremony held at the Franco-American Heritage Center on Monday.

Stephen J. Morgan Lewiston city councilor for ward 7 speaks from the podium after being named city council president during the inauguration held at the Franco-American Heritage Center on Monday.

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